Nervous brides-to-be and their families waited outside Jolie Bridal on St. Clair Avenue West on Saturday morning, wondering if the gowns they had paid for were inside.
One by one they were let in by the team of bailiffs handling the situation, after the store suddenly shut down about a week ago, leaving many brides concerned and in the dark.
Kristina Manorath is getting married on Aug. 3 and showed up on Saturday with faint hope that her dress would be there.
“I came today and checked and it’s not there. There’s actually not many dresses left there at all,” she told reporters after leaving the store.
Like many of the women who showed up, Manorath did leave with contact information for her dress distributor, but she’s not confident that will change much for her.
“My dress isn’t in stock in North America, so I’m kind of starting from scratch here,” Manorath said.
Charmaine Garrick is getting married at the end of August. She picked out her wedding dress and her bridesmaids’ dresses in April.
“I came down here last Friday with my maid of honour, and we saw the signs on there. And we couldn’t even speak. We were shocked. We just stood there with our mouths open, it was just, and there was nothing we could do.”
She held up her receipt, showing that she’d paid for her own dress with a credit card, but says the bridesmaids dresses were all paid for in cash. On her way into the store she was furious at the store owner.
“This is a very special day for people, one of the most important days of their lives and this woman can do this to them. It’s devastating. It’s beyond devastating.”
As Garrick left the store, she was feeling a little more encouraged that her situation could be resolved in time.
“I have a little hope. They gave us a supplier number. It was ordered. It’s in Montreal. I’m just going to contact the suppliers now, and we’re going to go from there.”
The store has been in business at the corner of St. Clair Avenue and Dufferin Street for about 35 years. The customers all said they felt confident when they paid for their dresses that they would get them.
Before allowing the women into the store to look for their items, a bailiff could be heard explaining that if they had paid in full, and if the dress was inside, they could take it away.
If the dress was there and there was a balance owing, the customer could pay for it and leave. If the dresses weren’t there, they would give them contact information for the manufacturer.
But only one woman left the store carrying a dress on Saturday. Kristina Branitskaya and her friend left the store with a wedding gown wrapped in plastic. And in an ironic twist, Brantitskaya doesn’t need it anymore.
“I cancelled my wedding,” she told reporters on the sidewalk. When she was asked if she was happy she got her dress, she replied, “Yeah, I guess I can still sell it.”
According to the documents taped to the store’s front door, the owner of Jolie Bridal Inc. owes St. Fidelis Properties $32,770 for five months of unpaid rent, plus almost $5,000 in costs. The locks have been changed and no-one affiliated with the store was there.